Baby’s position will make all the difference to a good latch. Once you have mastered the skill of breastfeeding, and latching on becomes natural, you may experiment with lots of different positions to nurse in. But in the early days it is helpful to follow a few simple tricks and rules to establish a good, deep and comfortable latch.
- Firstly, it would probably be good to get yourself some comfortable nursing pillows in order to get nice and relaxed during the first days of long endless breastfeeding sessions. I would recommend a big one for yourself and a smaller one for baby to lay on.
- Sit comfortably, perhaps lay the nursing pillow if you are using one, on your lap and place baby on it.
- Baby’s mouth is wide open.
- The entire nipple and most of the areola (surrounding area of the breast) are in baby’s mouth. You should see more dark skin above your baby’s top lip than below your baby’s bottom lip.
- You may see baby’s lower lip being curled back – but sometimes baby is so close you will not see the lips at all.
- Baby’s cheeks are round and full.
- Baby’s jaw and ears are moving in a swallowing, gulping motion.
- Keep baby’s body in a straight line with the whole body facing the nipple and breast Support the neck, shoulders and back so that the baby can tilt his/her head back easily.
- Make sure the baby’s lower lip and chin is in contact with the breast first. A gentle stroke with your nipple on baby’s lip should lead to baby opening mouth wide ready to latch on.
- A semi-reclined position might be particularly comfortable to nurse in as you can rest and lay down a little and gravity helps you.
- Practice makes perfect. If you feel any tension in your arms, neck or shoulders do get somebody to get you an additional pillow or readjust your position. Nursing through feeling uncomfortable leads to increased pain, it is fine to unlatch baby readjust the position and try again. It also helps baby to practice latching on. And a relaxed mama will have a better milk flow.
- When and if you encounter problems it is normal to tense up which ultimately makes it much worse, being stressed about positioning and tensing up is counterproductive in establishing breastfeeding.
- Once established try a variation of positions you or baby like to nurse in, it will give you confidence and it frees up your mind about tensely holding your child whilst feeding.
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